Bain To Steer Education R/Evolution In North?

In a significant speech tonight, Peter Hain announced George Bain as the man tasked with organising the comprehensive educational changes planned for the north (pardon the pun.) Interesingly, Hain articulated his vision of Specialist Schools forming a part of the new education system’s structural framework, a move likely to arouse suspicions that the Grammar lobby may be looking to use Specialisation as a means of retaining selection by the back door.
In addition, Hain spelled out his vision of schools as integral community facilities- echoing Sinn Fein’s stated policy of creating ‘Learning Neighbourhoods,’ contained wihtin the party’s Education policy document ‘Educate That You May Be Free’, published during Martin McGuiness’ tenure as Education Minister.

  • Pete Baker

    Mr Hain said the reforms “ought to be judged on common-sense principles – not dogma, prejudice or educational theories, traditional or modern”.

    So another review?.. with no preconceived outcomes?.. Really?

    and it was “The commitment to a broadly-based education system, with strong vocational strands, with a strong commitment to excellence in apprenticeships was a key basis for the Celtic Tiger”?.. Really???

    Nothing to do with the taxation system at all then?.. ok..

    Never mind the current warnings of an over-reliance on the building industry.. or the warnings about the inflationary housing market..

    Or are we not supposed to mention that?

    It’s ok, folks.. don’t worry.

    Hain is only “echoing Sinn Fein’s stated policy of creating ‘Learning Neighbourhoods,’ contained wihtin the party’s Education policy document ‘Educate That You May Be Free’, published during Martin McGuiness’ tenure as Education Minister.”

    Of course he is, Chris.. Of course he is..


  • slug

    The Grammars should go private.

    Yes there would be fees. But those who save up for their children’s education can then be free from this comprehensive system.

    It really is the way forward and in 10 years time NI will be like Edinburgh – noted for a large number of excellent private schools.

  • willis


    If you save up for your child’s education will you still have to pass an exam to get into the school?


  • Crataegus

    Mr Hain outlined five steps which he said would “make our education system world-class”.
    •The end of transfer tests;
    •The rolling out of specialist schools;
    •The introduction of a new curriculum;
    •The transformation of schools into community centres, open from 8am to 6pm;
    •A commitment to the non-school sector, including apprenticeships.

    6PM well that’s really pushing the boat out, community centres for the unemployed? What to hell is a commitment to the non school sector actually mean and do apprentices not go to college?

    Maybe I am really stupid but from 8am to 5pm I would like to see our schools dedicated to educating our children in a secure environment. Perhaps let’ first get that right and fair enough open the gym at night for weight watchers and Brownies.

    By the way hear some schools will not only be going private but will be relocating and rebuilding.

    So far this reform has been badly handled, poorly thought through and there is a total lack of commitment to dealing with issues relating to integration.

    If selection is primarily based on location will that not result in working class sink schools in areas like Shankill or Lower Falls? OK the children won’t have to sit the 11 plus but will their opportunities improve?

  • Alan

    Where to start on this one?

    It is good to see someone of Bain’s stature taking this on board. There is certainly a job to be done in pulling schools together, rolling out the curriculum, adding specialist schools and finally hitching vocational to the educational train. I believe he can do it.

    Without the direction of an education improver ( spot who first calls him a Tsar) it won’t happen. It certainly would not happen if left to the Department.

    On other matters, yes, I heard rumours that Inst will sell and move from central belfast, but the building’s listed, and they were only rumours. In fact, I think it was only last week that the principal of Methody admitted that she didn’t know what it would cost to go private.

    The reason for the stories about moving is, however, significant, as claw back of capital funding under the 86 order (and indeed pre-partition legislation) would produce staggering debts. You really would be mortgaging your child’s future in that case.

    One thing I would like to ask those on the grammar lobby is – how does privatisation fit with the search for academic excellence, or was that all a sham, as you only wanted to serve as comprehensives for the wealthy all along ?


  • Crataegus


    I am not pro grammar but simply see the current proposals as incoherent and doubt they will make any real difference but cause utter confusion. An opportunity squandered. Also one of the nubs of the problem is the parallel systems of integrated, maintained and state and whilst those persist how can you produce coherence? First deal with THE major structural problem and then proceed.

    The way I see it the core of the objection is class based. Working class children from the likes of New Lodge or Sandy Row have very low skills levels. They have limited opportunity, and unless there is a fundamental change in attitude towards the education of children in PRIMARY schools in such areas it won’t matter what the system of secondary education. They are behind at 5 and the gap widens by 11, its not that they are not clever they just don’t have the support or knowledge base and opportunity at home. So given that what middle class parent wants their child dumped into a school with the linguistically challenged (as seen from their point of view).

    But in reality they have little to fear for they don’t live in working class areas so the children in leafy avenues will go to leafy schools and the children in working class areas will go to the local bear pit. In many ways this system could be worse than the existing for working class children as the very intelligent will be denied the opportunity to get out and it may be better for middle class children as the plain stupid or those who suffer exam nerves will be guaranteed a place in the local NICE school.

    Selection by ability to buy a house will be the future reality. How progressive is that?